Link Disability Magazine February-March 2022

Page 62

Link to...Travel & Leisure

Travelling in the USA Taking a trip to another country as a person with disability is always challenging but add in a global pandemic and things get a bit tricky. As Caitlin Maynard discovered. Caitlin with her father Donald and sister Georgia

up being an issue almost every time, either it wasn’t there on time or no one could bring the chair onto the plane. There were a few times when I had to walk to my seat and when I was only able to board the plane after everyone else was on. One of my favourite parts of the trip was visiting the Grand Canyon. We were able to get a disability pass that let us take our own car to the different lookouts. Without it we would have had to walk or take a shuttle to the different lookouts. This would have been complicated to do with my wheelchair and I probably would have wanted to leave early. Like they do in Australia, parks in the US are taking accessibility into account for everyone to enjoy.

E

arly in November my family and I were able to travel back to America to visit friends and family.

As a wheelchair user there are things that I needed to make sure of when traveling and these were made more complicated. Such as, being able to get my wheelchair safely on the plane, that people talk to, and listen to me, instead of whoever is accompanying me and organising assistance to get through airports. There were difficulties on each leg of my trip and some things I would have done differently. I was glad to have printed vaccine records and proof

62

February/March 2022

of a negative PCR, but next time I would print out a written version of the assistance I require. It was hard to talk through everything with a mask on while staying socially distanced. Every airport has a different idea of what wheelchair users need, so this would make everything clear and be quicker. Now to the aisle chair - a special narrow wheelchair that can fit through the aisle of the plane. These chairs stay at different airports and when a plane carrying a wheelchair user takes off and lands people working at the airport bring the aisle chair to the jet and take the person from the door of the plane to their seat. But the aisle chair ended

We also visited Las Vegas and were able to rent an electric scooter for me to use all over the strip. This was a total game changer because I was only able to bring my manual chair on the trip and had to rely on my family to push my chair for the most part. This rental scooter gave me so much freedom and saved me a lot of energy. Every grocery store and big shop we went into in the US had motorised scooters. It is something I wish more cities or even just shopping centres had here. A good support system when traveling now is so important. The biggest frustration I found was that a lot of the people working on the aircraft and in the airports were either new and didn’t know the correct way to interact with people with disabilities or hadn’t assisted any passengers with a disability since before the pandemic started so did not remember the correct policies. This meant it was necessary to have someone with me to help find a solution. Even with the difficulties and frustrations in the end it was all worth it to see the Grand Canyon, new cities and my wonderful extended family.